Volcán Barú

Volcan Baru - Panama's highest peak

Height: 3475 meter

Indix: 1B

Volcan Baru is the highest peak in Panama at over 3475 meters. The mountain is accessible and possible to hike up without climbing or special gear. The climate changes with the altitude though so warm clothes for the summit is advised.

A great start for Friendly Peaks in the Americas.

Where is Volcan Baru located?

The volcano is located in the eastern part of Panama, near Boquete, a town of 15,000 people. There are a lot of retirees and tourists in the area. From Panama city, you can either take a bus which takes about 10 hours to get to Boquete or a flight which is there in a bit more than an hour.

Hiking up the volcano

It is a simple, but also a bit dull hike up the volcano. Trees often cover the way and block the view. The hike is simple, but make no mistake: There have been cases of fatalities potentially due to getting lost in the forest and national park. The area is home to a wide variety of birds and monkeys. The climate is often quite humid, as warm and humid air from the Caribbean moves in. Hence, prepare at least a rain coat that shields you from humid and cold air near the summit. If lucky, you might enjoy a sunny day and amazing view of the surrounding areas. 

 

Volcan Baru trekking map

Coming soon. 

The Summit

The peak of the volcano sometimes offers the unique chance to have a sight of both the Caribbean (Atlantic Ocean) and the Pacific Ocean.

More often than not, the peak is in clouds however as the area is very humid.  

How long does it take?

It takes roughly 6 hours for a fast walker to hike up the mountain. Best way is to start in the early in the morning and you will be on the peak by noon and descent after an hour from that place. 

You can hire a local guide in Boquete or join one of the many groups that the hostels organize. Ahead planning is not necessary except for a day or two ahead to double-check the equipment (lamp, emergency phone, rain coat, snacks etc.), get rest and ready. 

Costs are also quite low and from Boquete you can plan this trip for total 100 USD including participating in a group with a guide and food and beverages. 

 

Where to start from?

If you go by yourself, you start at a parking space on around 2000 meters of altitude. From the town center of Boquete, it takes about a 30 minute drive to reach this point. Enter the mountain from the town center towards west. One option is to start around midnight in order to start the hike around 1 am and hike all the way up during the night to reach the summit around 7-8 am. The disadvantage is, that it is sometimes rainy and cold on the way up. But you have a high likelihood for a great view! 

The alternative is to start around 5-6 am and you will reach the summit around noon. The hike up is often better, but you might get into rain on the way down. 

Signing up for the hike?

In early 2021 you had to sign up via email for the hike and only hikers that had previously contacted the administration have been allowed to hike up by the rangers at the entrance of the park. This might change again and it could well be that in the future you might have to pay 5 USD at the ranger station, which is about 200 meters from the parking space. 

Is there a base camp?

There is not really a base camp. Most hikers live in Boquete and hike up and down within 12 hours and stay in Boquete again with all its restaurants, hotels and hostels. 

Some people opt to sleep near the top, about 2 km before you reach the summit. There is no real base camp, but a shack that helps protect slightly from rain and sun. This is already above 3000 meters and it can get cold during the night, so if you opt for that make sure you have a good, warm sleeping bag and enough food and beverages. 

Is there a village on top of Baru?

There is a litte weather and telecom station on top of mount Baru. It is not a village however and do not expect any services available there. However, due to the telecom station there is usually good connectivity for your phone on the top. You might also find some people who work there and potentially you could ask for water, but do not plan for this!